JACKSONVILLE – The defensive additions continue, one after the other.
With the third free-agent announcement of the day – and the third in rapid succession since the 2020 NFL League Year began – the Jaguars have added a veteran player who will add depth and contribute heavily to their defensive-line rotation.
Rodney Gunter, a sixth-year veteran defensive lineman, has agreed to terms with the Jaguars an unrestricted free agent after five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The Jaguars announced the move Thursday, the day after the start of the '20 league year.
"Overall, we wanted to look at what we have to do to do a better job stopping the run," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Thursday. "Your first defense to stopping the run are the guys up front, so you're going to look at that. Then obviously the second level of defense are your linebackers and the third level is your secondary."
The Jaguars early Thursday afternoon announced they had agreed to terms with former Cleveland Browns middle linebacker Joe Schobert, who will start in the middle and allow former middle linebacker Myles Jack to move to what Marrone on Thursday called his more "natural" position of weak-side linebacker.
The Jaguars on Thursday also announced they had agreed to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
"We want to make sure we're looking at addressing all of those levels and doing everything we can to make sure we stop that," Marrone said of a run defense that ranked 27th in the NFL last season. "When we were looking at free agents and watching these players, the emphasis was guys who could tackle, get off blocks, beat blocks and hold the line of scrimmage. We put an emphasis on that."
Marrone said Gunter possesses those skills.
"We were looking around and all of a sudden, Rodney comes up and it's, 'Who is this guy?''' Marrone said. "We don't know that division that well. It's the NFC West and you don't really see a lot of cross tape of people like that during the year. We really like the skill set.
"We think he can play multiple positions for us, whether he can go down in a three (-technique defensive tackle) or play the big (strong-side) end."
Gunter (6-feet-5, 305 pounds), 28, a fourth-round selection by Arizona from Delaware State in the 2015 NFL Draft, has played in 77 career games with 38 starts. He has 126 tackles with 26 for loss and 11 sacks with two forced fumbles.
Gunter started and played in 13 games this past season with 31 tackles, nine for loss, and three sacks. He played in all 16 games in each of his first four NFL seasons, setting career-highs with 48 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2018.
"He's very good against the run and we think we can get some pass rush out of him," Marrone said. "We think of him as potentially a three-down player for us. We feel very comfortable in getting him and I was very excited we were able to get him."